The last panel of cartoonist Josh Neufeld’s 2009 non-fiction masterpiece A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge says it all. Five years after Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact on New Orleans and other cities along the Gulf Coast, people are still picking up the pieces. Many have still not returned home (and may never) while others continue to rebuild their homes and lives. Neufeld’s beautifully gripping and poignant re-telling of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans–presented in “graphic novel” form through the eyes of seven extraordinary survivors (all true stories)–was released in paperback last Tuesday. It’s an amazing piece of work. Neufeld treats the survivors and their stories with the utmost care and takes readers on an intimate journey into one of the most devastating natural disasters in the last 50 years. Even if you’re not a comic book or “graphic novel” fan, I highly recommend this book. Once you pick it up, it’s hard to forget the faces of those who suffered so much and continue to trudge on, as one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history (the BP oil spill) engulfs the region’s wildlife and peoples’ livelihoods.
As a way of commemorating the Katrina disaster, here are numerous ways in which you can remember, pray and share the story of the people of New Orleans…
During September, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is urging folks to call their local NBC affiliates and request an airing of the PDA documentary “Coming Home: Hurricane Katrina Five Years Later.” The NBC affiliate in Atlanta-Duluth aired the program today at 2 pm, featuring some members of the Pleasant Hill congregation who have taken several trips down to the Gulf to do home and building repairs. I’m looking forward to watching the program on the DVR when I get home from Middle and High School Youth Group Meetings tonight. For more info, check out the program brochure and trailer below and call your NBC station to get this program aired. It’s a story that needs to be shared:
Last week, Spike Lee’s documentary “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” premiered on HBO. It’s the sequel to Lee’s documentary on Katrina and the immediate affects the disaster had on New Orleans, “When the Levees Broke.” Although I’ve only seen clips of the first film, I imagine, given Spike Lee’s incredible gift as a filmmaker and storyteller, that the sequel is also striking. While Spike Lee has often courted controversy over the years for his films or comments he has made about other filmmakers and their films, he has proven to be a prophetic voice for the people of New Orleans by giving them an opportunity to be heard. Below is a trailer for Lee’s latest documentary and an interview Lee gave on the making of the film.
May we learn much from what the people and the movies by Spike Lee (as well as PDA) have to say about humanity, the disparity between the haves and have-nots, racism, mission, justice, hope, faith, love and God presence in the midst of tragic and difficult circumstances.
If you’re looking for something shorter on Katrina and people’s reflections 5 years later, check out the following pieces by the reporters on CNN.com: “5-year anniversary of Katrina’s wrath somber, reflective” and “New Orleans resilient, but struggling”
And if you do nothing else today or this week to remember Katrina, you can always say prayers in the hopes that we as a people will rise above the chaos of the waters and be grounded in the promises of hope.